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Central Pa. hospitals see uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations, especially among the unvaccinated

In this file photo from summer 2020, a sign in front of the Mount Nittany Medical Center asks visitors to see a staff member if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Min Xian
Hospitals across the region, including Mount Nittany Medical Center, are treating higher numbers of COVID-19 patients in recent months.

Hospitals across the region are treating higher numbers of COVID-19 patients in recent months. Healthcare providers say most of the hospitalizations are among people who are unvaccinated.

Chief Operating Officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare Mark Norman said in a press conference Tuesday the uptick in COVID-19 cases has been evident and mirrors a wider trend.

“About a month ago, Penn Highlands Healthcare hospitals were caring for just a handful of COVID-19 positive inpatients in our hospitals, but now we’re caring for almost 40 per day,” he said.

Norman urged residents to get vaccinated. “Our team of doctors and staff across the region have witnessed patients of all ages, from their 20s to their 90s, dying. And many of these people may have been saved or had an easier fight if they would have received the vaccine,” he said.

Penn Highlands said it has administered about 90,000 doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at its six rural hospitals as well as regional clinics. Norman said the hospital will be giving out boosters as soon as the CDC decides on new guidelines, which are expected later this week.

In Centre County, Mount Nittany Health said it was “alarmed” at its recent rate of COVID-19 positive hospitalizations. There were 42 at the hospital as of Friday. It has postponed some elective procedures and tightened visitation rules given the rise in positive cases.

The Altoona Mirror reported Monday the emergency department at UPMC Altoona has been under stress from COVID-19 patients as well as staffing shortages, another challenge that health care providers are facing nationwide.

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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